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First DREAMer deported under Trump

Youth Empowerment Alliance

Attendance at Youth Empowerment Alliance meetings has been lower than usual since President Trump took office, said YEA Vice President Maria Trevino-Rodriguez. | Courtesy of YEA

The deportation of the first DREAMer, or immigrant documented under an Obama-era law permitting two-year work permits, has brought a wave of anxiety to undocumented immigrants at the University of Houston.

The lawyers of 23-year-old Juan Manuel Montes allege that their client was the first recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, to be deported under President Donald Trump on Feb. 17.  The case has not gone unnoticed by the Youth Empowerment Alliance, an immigrant-led UH student organization.

“It’s crazy,” said Maria Trevino-Rodriguez, the YEA vice president and a political science senior. “We’ve never seen such low attendance to our meetings for YEA … So, we do see this fear on campus to even say that you’re undocumented.”

According to the New York Times, Montes, who came to the United States at age 9, was deported to Mexico from Calexico, California, after he was detained by a U.S. Customs and Border protection officer. Montes said he left his wallet in his friend’s car and was unable to produce to the officer his ID or proof of DACA status.

Three hours later, he was back in Mexico, where he has lived since February.

Montes’s legal team and the Department of Homeland Security have differing accounts of what happened, according to the New York Times.

Montes said he was deported Feb. 17 and caught trying to re-enter the country Feb. 19. The DHS said it has no record of Montes being deported the first time, so when he was caught entering the country illegally Feb. 19, the DHS believed he had left the country without receiving permission to re-enter, as stipulated by DACA rules.

UH Law Center Immigration Clinic Director Geoffrey Hoffman said DREAMers are allowed to leave the country only under specific conditions like educational opportunities abroad or humanitarian needs.

If a person illegally re-enters the United States, the person is subjected to expedited removal from the country under section 235 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which limits the person’s due process, Hoffman said.

“The statute is very strict with limited availability for judicial review,” Hoffman said in an email. “The due process allowed is usually limited to (1) being provided a credible fear interview and then placed in asylum-only proceedings before an immigration judge and/or (2) limited federal court review.”

The case could impact the approximately 800 DACA recipients, or DREAMers, who attend UH, Trevino said,.

“This guy — he had DACA,” said Trevino, who also lives in the United States under DACA. “He just didn’t have it on his body. There’s so many times where I forget my purse or I forget my wallet, and I literally have no identification on me. For that kind of situation to occur only shows that we need people to stand up right now.”

Montes’s deportation has caused contradictory statements to come from the Trump administration. The president told the Associated Press last Friday that DREAMers should “rest easy” about his immigration policies. But on Sunday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told ABC News “everyone that enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported.”

Matthew Wiltshire, a history senior who serves as president of the UH College Republicans and communications director for the Texas Federation of College Republicans, said what happened to Montes was an unfortunate situation made significantly worse by his attempt to illegally re-enter the country.

“The only thing I can say beyond that is that (the UH College Republicans) support the administration’s efforts to secure the border and enforce the laws of the country,” Wiltshire said.

Trevino, meanwhile, said routine happenings in most people’s day-to-day lives — like making a midnight run to Whataburger without an ID — are privileges that undocumented immigrants do not have.

“There are these very small privileges that people have that don’t realize an undocumented person’s whole life can be changed simply because of this one issue,” Trevino said.

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  • And just like any Drive By News reporter feeding news to their weak-minded news consumers, Swanson leaves out the fact that Montes had a CRIMINAL HISTORY. Case Closed.

    I don’t feel sorry for Montes one bit. If someone is unsure of their immigration status, then going back to the Country you want to get away from is a stupid move.

    The border crossings under Trump have fallen off sharply, something like 90%. Border Agents are Happily doing their jobs. He’s ENFORCING the Law, which is the complete opposite of what Obama was doing.

    Trump has not done anything illegal. People like Swansin will do everything in their power to make Trump and Republicans look bad, just as they do everything they can to make National Socialist Democrats look good.

    The Sanctuary City Defunding act was approved in 1996, under BILL CLINTON. Its Law already. The Judge in the case invented some charge Pre-Enactment Anxiety, or something like that, which I’m sure National Socialist Democrat Psychs are scrambling to come up with a diagnosis.

    • He might not have done anything illegal ( and thats a generous might) but that doesnt make it morally ethical. Our great country was founded by and for immigrants and we shouldnt forget that. Besides the native Americans that pretty much got the shaft on that one. If you limit or stop immigration, maybe you will stop the next steve jobs or etc

      • Justin … Our great country is made great by the sacrifice of immigrants … who wanted to come to America to be AMERICAN, make their own way, and assimilate into society.

        The lot coming now wants to get benefits, and sham their way to us being Balkanized, and just another worthless country.

  • It takes quite a depraved mind to be pleased at the destruction of someone’s life who came here to improve theirs. Once we opened our doors to those who suffered, now we arrest them and slam it in their face while some of our citizens and students, hiding behind their self-righteous privilege, gleefully gloat and cheer. Jesus wept.

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